Dan Sweet

How I launched a lean startup for $8.17

I launched a startup today.

That might sound like a big statement, but it was really pretty easy. The whole thing took 3-4 hours of spare time on my iPhone and laptop while hanging around the house taking care of a 1 and a 3-year old. Total cost $8.17.

First, two helpful definitions of a startup:

Eric Reis’s The Lean Startup – “an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty”
Steve Blank‘s Customer Development – “search for a scalable, profitable business model”

This post by Steve Blank provides a step-by-step guide to launching a web startup and was very helpful. Tons of great links and pointers to tools. The most useful tool I found linked to in the article was the Lean Launch Lab. Stepping back a little, there is some classic work on business models by Alexander Osterwalder in his book Business Model Generation. The main premise is that you can lay out an entire end-to-end business model in nine small boxes on one sheet of paper. Layer Steve Blank’s Customer Development work on top of Alexander’s Business Model Canvas and you get what Steve Blank has been teaching in his entrepreneurship classes at Stanford and elsewhere – the Lean Launchpad.  Leanlaunchlab.com was built to turn this whole process into a simple to use web app. Watch the 1-minute video at the site to get the sense for how the process flows. I completed the entire Business Model Canvas on my iPhone while feeding a 1 and a 3-year old breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning. I switched over to a browser to write an initial hypothesis to test, design a test, establish some metrics and write a list of to-do’s to execute the test. A day later, I’ve got 5 of my 7 initial Tasks completed and have my first test underway.

My < 140 character elevator pitch is “Protect your stock portfolio and spot the best opportunities with meaningful real-time alerts.” I’ve got a basic landing page with email sign-up built at TradesthatMatter.com and I’ll be tweeting at @TTMAlerts .  The $8.17 was the domain registration fee at godaddy.com with a coupon from retailmenot.com.  Follow me on Twitter and sign up at the site to keep track of my progress.